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A Detailed Question About a Ball Python Set Up

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by MadRatter, Dec 6, 2013.

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  1. MadRatter

    MadRatter Member


    So this is going to be quite a long post and I am hoping for real answers with detail. I currently have one reptile, a Ball Python. I bought him August 31 at PetSmart. Right now he is living in a 20 G L tank which is more than adequate for his size right now, but I want to purchase today the 36 x 18 x 18 Large Exo Terra terrarium from my work for 30% off of 159.99! A great price! Right? I just bought one last week for 85.00 at my work and these tanks are normally 200.00. That one was for my friends X-mas present though. Anyway, I am planning on setting it up as a live plant terrarium. I know live plants are not always the best for snakes since they can maul the poor plant with their heavy bodies. That really isn't a concern of mine though. My concern is I want to set up a Rainforest Terrarium, my question is would this be a poor set up for a Ball Python because of the high humidity levels?

    I drew a diagram of my idea, but it will not allow me to upload it. So I will describe it as best as I can until I am able to edit this and upload one.

    I plan on purchasing the Exo Terra Large and Tall 36 x 18 x 18. Then placing a 2 inch layer of hydroballs or large aquarium stone along the bottom. This will create a water reserve, so the bedding wont be wet all the time. After that I will add a substrate divider, not sure of the actual name. This will keep the water reserve and the substrate separate so it will be dry. Then I will add a layer of eco earth or tree fern soil above the divider for my plants to be rooted in. For my Ball Python, I would then add a layer of ReptiBark or another form of snake safe substrate (not aspen). I would also then add moss to the ground along his hiding houses and climbing logs. Maybe even a water fall in the back of the tank for him to drink from so he will have running water. Besides that, I would like to place panels of tree fern along the backside using silicone and also silicone air plants or moss to fill up the rather large space. This would give it a finished look, I believe. I would use a monsoon system to keep the humidity constant in my tank, Since I currently use 100 W - 150 W night basking bulbs for my snake 24-7. I also would like to have a pvc? pipe in the tank large enough to stick a small syphon down to remove old water every now and then. I would of course use a cap on the top of it to keep it blocked off from him ever accessing. I would also use a 2.0 or 5.0 UVB lighting system for the plants, I think this would also create a decent day time and night time cycle for my Ball Python as he only has purple night basking bulbs on 24-7.
    Okay, So now that you know what my plans are, I would enjoy some feedback. I am not dead set on doing this, I just would really like a tropical vivarium in my bedroom and thought if I could add my snake to it to for the time being while he is still small. That would make it 100x better. If I can not add him to it, would this work for a tree boa?
  2. MadRatter

    MadRatter Member

    Tropical Rainforest Terrarium.jpg

    A: Hydroballs or Gravel
    B: Mesh divider
    C: Eco earth or fern tree soil
    D: Snake safe substrate
    E: Tree fern panels
    F: Exo Terra tank
  3. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Sounds like a neat setup, but I don't think it would be a good idea for a ball python. Mostly because it sounds as if you'll have humidity in the 70-80% range most of the time, correct me if I'm wrong about that. Bps should be maintained at around 50% humidity, they can go higher for a few days to help with shedding, just not all the time. It sounds like you actually have the beginnings of a nice frog setup of some kind, but I know very little about them.
  4. MadRatter

    MadRatter Member

    I got most of my ideas from videos and sites for Poison Dart Frogs, I really had liked the set up and thought about doing my own spin off of it. That is why I posted and asked first because I was not sure if the humidity levels and everything would be too much for my Ball Python. If he could not have a set up like that, Could some one recommend plants that require a lower humidity that would work for him.
    I did get the tank I wanted today and moved my Ball into it already, so I hope to get started ASAP making his tank more realistic to what environment he would live in if he were wild. His tank is so bare right now plus he is only 22" long so the tank is HUGE for him...
  5. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Keep in mind balls spend the majority of their time underground hiding, so anything beyond a couple or more hides and a proper warm spot it purely for giving the keeper something to look at besides an empy seeming cage. Thats why they do so well in rack setups. That said, I have seen some really well set up naturalistic cages. Can't help you with the plants though, sorry. Hopefully someone else can chike in on that.
  6. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    I would totally disagree Darkbird. Snakes, like most reptiles, will use what you give them. Put them in a boring little tub and youll get a boring stupid animal. Give them a nice big enclosure with a natural and enriching setting and you'll start to see more. If fish tanks are for fish, then sweater tubs are for sweaters. ;)

    As for the enclosure you talked about MadRatter, the problem is not so much the humidity. Balls cover a wide area in their habitat, in other words they are very adaptable animals. They have areas in their habitat where the humidity is upwards of 80% through half the year. You can keep them in an enclosure with 70% humidity as long as you also give it good ventilation and have a good bioactivity in your soil. However, they arent really a rainforest animal either. With the waterfall and the mister you are going to have a lot of moisture right on the surface, which can cause skin issues for a snake. That would be the problem with your set up as described.

    I would recommend getting a book called The Art of Keeping Snakes by Philip de Vosjoli. Its a great book and will give you a more detailed step by step look at how to set up the enclosure and also how to keep your soil and plants healthy.

    Regarding your lights, I think its a good idea to have the UVB light for your snake, but it will do nothing for your plants really. UVB actually hurts them (though at those levels it would be negligible), for plants you want red and blue spectrum lights. As for that enclosure, I would say set it up for frogs and get a bigger one for your snake. It may seem big now, but after all the work you need to do to get it right for your snake, youre not going to want to have to do it again in a year or so when your snake is much bigger.
  7. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member


    I have nothing to add to this discussion, just wanted to say that was an awesome one liner!
  8. MadRatter

    MadRatter Member

    I was under the understanding that a 20g Long was suitable for a young ball python and a 40 gallon breeder was okay for an adult Ball Python because they are sedentary snakes? The tank I purchased is equivalent to a 40 gallon breeder and it just has the doors in the front. The dimensions are 18 W x 18 H x 36 long and my Ball Python is about 21 inches long.

    Can some one shed more light into this?
    If my plans are not suitable for my snake, then I am willing to change them to suite his needs. I am mostly doing this to add beauty to his tank since it is located in my bedroom/office/livingroom. I basically live out of that room, lol.
  9. TJOHNSON722

    TJOHNSON722 Elite Member

    A 40 gallon breeder is fine for an adult ball python. I also agree with jarich on the humidity. Just keep an eye on scale rot, things of that nature. I use a 50/50 blend for substrate using moss and reptibark for substrate for ball pythons. With some fine tuning on materials etc it could be really cool and a very nice enclosure. Make sure you have plenty of hiding spots. Also if you use established plants inside, it should be no problem with the trampling, etc.
  10. CryHavoc17

    CryHavoc17 Elite Member

    I think the issue with the 40 gal might be that with all that substrate/plants/ect you run out of room for your actual snake. Most people who keep balls in 40's have the more simple set up with just a couple of hides and a water bowl. My balls in a 4x2x1 enclosure, and while she certainly doesn't need all that space she absolutely uses every inch
  11. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Yes, a 40 gallon is okay, but no they are not sedentary snakes. If you can give them more space, then I would recommend you do so. I can keep a great dane in my tiny NYC apartment, but its definitely not fair really, is it. It will also make it much easier for you to keep your plants and system going with more room. In that small an area, not only will you find it hard to keep your snake from trampling everything, but you'll also have a hard time keeping your soil alive.
  12. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    In my experience, balls spend most of their time in a hide, only moving between hides to thermo regulate. I've also had them go off food just moving from a hatchling size setup to one slightly larger, and it took more than a month to get it back on feed. Of course individuals vary, and an outgoing animal might not care, but I've seen firsthand that these are sedentary, ambush predators. Usually a bp that's cruising it's cage constantly is doing so because it can't get comfortable. I'm not talking about the normal exploring that comes with them being put into a new setup, any animal will do that. Remember that these guys live in termite mounds and animal burrows, and normally only come out to get a drink once in a while. Otherwise they wait for the rodent to come to them.

    Now having said this, I think you'll be fine with the larger cage as long as you clutter it up a lot. Which isn't usually a problem in a planted setup. They just don't like a lot of open space. If they did racks wouldn't work for them. And in case your wondering, yes I've kept them in larger cages before, I switched to racks because they simply weren't using the extra space and I can keep more snakes more efficiently. Of course this is just my take on the matter, and there manny ways to do things in this hobby.
  13. jarich

    jarich Elite Member

    Ya for sure, there are many different ways to do things. But since you mentioned their natural setting, lets go into that further. Ball pythons have an incredibly large area of habitation. They are found all over Africa, and while they have a tendency to follow their favorite prey (rodents) they are also found in areas where they have adapted to eating birds and other animals. In other words, in the wild they easily adapt to new areas and are an exploratory species. They do sleep underground, but they do not simply wait for prey. Rodents have an exceptional sense of smell, and would not be likely to go down a burrow inhabited by a snake. Balls are active hunters at night, and frequent human habitations as a result (we attract rodents). They are also seen fairly often during the day out basking.

    You will find that if they are fed more in keeping with a wild caloric intake, they will come out and explore in an effort to find food. However, if the animal is kept in a small sterile environment and fed at the levels that most captive keepers feed them, they will likely end up mentally stunted and lazy.
  14. MadRatter

    MadRatter Member

    He is only a baby right now and the tank is a little bigger than a 40 gallon. I don't think space will be a problem for him, he is 22" and the tank is 36" long. In the future I could alway upgrade, but I keep the tank on a dresser and I'm short, so reaching into the tank is a little bit of a hassle. That is why I bought this tank, I love the front opening doors. Makes life simpler.
    Tank size isn't my concern, my concern was if my set up would hurt my snake and if so, how could I adjust it to suit him. I think I have received most of the information I needed though, thank you guys.
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